Convenience, speed and efficiency have turned texting into a primary form of personal communication for many of us. Text messages are becoming increasingly common in business for the same reasons.
While it's fun and easy to send an abbreviation-filled, emoji-studded message to a friend, the rules are different when texting clients, colleagues and your boss.
Here are 10 texting etiquette tips to help you reap the benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.
1. Text only when there is an established business relationship.
Once you have developed a comfortable relationship in person or by email, ask what their preference of communication is and let it be your guide. A text should never be your first contact with a business associate.
2. Pay attention to timing.
Limit texting to work hours. You wouldn't call a client with a great idea right before you climbed into bed for the evening, so don't text them at that hour either. Sending a text after hours signals urgency. Wait until the next business day to relay your message.
3. Know when to make a call.
Anything complex that might require further explanation should be handled with an email or a phone call. However, a short text could be a good start to inquire as to the best time to talk.
4. Keep it brief.
With voice-to-text capabilities, it's easy to send a rambling, lengthy text message. If your message is more than a couple of sentences in length, a phone call or email is probably better. Not only do long texts get broken apart and sent in random order, but they defeat the purpose of this tool, which is to communicate short messages quickly.
5. Don't text confidential news.
Texting is not the venue to convey delicate or difficult information. As with other digital communication, be careful about what you type - remember that your words can live on forever in a screenshot. Once you hit send, it's out of your control.
6. Remain professional.
Every piece of communication is a reflection of your professionalism, including a simple text. Even though there are hundreds of fun emoji's, reserve them for your personal correspondence. Avoid abbreviations that are confusing at worst, silly at best. As with every form of communication, spelling and punctuation count.
7. Text clear, specific information.
A text message doesn't allow for subtleties. Use texts for information that has little room for misinterpretation. Avoid attempts at humor or witty remarks - without a lot of context, your message could get lost in translation.
8. Reply promptly.
Texting conveys a sense of immediacy. When you receive a message from a client or your boss, respond in a timely manner. On the other hand, when a text is emotional, give yourself some time to think your response through. The speed of texting is why we love it, but don't let it work against you.
9. Put it away.
Being glued to your phone takes away from your professional image and can be quite distracting. Just as you wouldn't check your email every 10 seconds, give your phone a rest so you can observe your environment and engage with others.
10. Sign off gracefully.
Some text threads go on and on, as though each party doesn't want to be the first to close the conversation. When the communication goal has been reached, end the exchange with a clear departure, such as a thank you or a promise to follow up soon.
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